Folk music trio Mike McGoldrick, John Doyle and John McCusker head to Bury St Edmunds later this month for a night of beautifully crafted music.
Having shared stages and recording studios with the likes of Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Paul Weller and Joan Baez, the trio are described as the masters of flute, fiddle, song and guitar.
The trio first crossed paths as teenagers and although they’d bumped into each other over the years all three really hit it off when they started playing as part of the BBC’s annual Transatlantic Sessions in 2007.
“That felt like it was a real coming together of the three of us,” McCusker says. “It’s always been really natural to play together, and as pals, it always feels really natural to hang out. That’s how the idea of us doing this as a trio came about: after The Transatlantic Sessions, we didn’t want the fun and the music to stop. So we said, ‘Well, why don’t we just keep going?’”
And so they did. Doyle, McCusker and McGoldrick have performed as a trio since 2009. They released a live album in 2009 and continue to tour together regularly.
Separately, all three musicians have gone on to global acclaim: John Doyle is an Irish music linchpin who has worked with Joan Baez, Linda Thompson and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Winner John McCusker has played with Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan and The Battlefield Band, recorded with Paul Weller, and recently produced albums for Eddi Reader and Heidi Talbot.
Mike McGoldrick is a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner, founding member of Lúnasa, and current member of Capercaillie, who has worked with Mark Knopfler, Eddi Reader and John Cale.
Together, they bring their own blend of top class folk songs, tunes and charming bonhomie.
“We try and keep it as fresh and exciting as we can,” McCusker says. “Live, we’ll often go onstage with no set-list, just to try and keep that energy up, that freshness. It’s about flying by the seat of your pants, about playing from the heart, about not over-thinking things.”
In 2017 they released their first studio album, ‘The Wishing Tree’, a thrilling trip through traditional, contemporary and original jigs, reels, ballads and more.
The album sees them branch out musically, while tracing the roots of their tunes and acquaintance.
“We all left school early, at 16, or 17, to join different bands,” recalls McCusker of their early days. “We’ve grown up together, really.”
McCusker adds: “Even when you’re writing new tunes, you’re trying to keep the roots of something alive. You’re trying to help it grow, by adding new tunes and songs. Hopefully maybe these new songs will inspire younger generations to pick up an instrument, and to play, and make music, the way we were inspired by older songs when we were young…”
All three retain their youthful excitement for making records and life on the road.
“The whole thing’s great fun,” McCusker nods. “We have no agenda other than having a nice time and playing music. That’s the way we tour as well – we throw ourselves in a little car, instruments on our laps, and off we go. Three old friends, having a great time, making music together.”
McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle perform at The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds, on Thursday, February 28, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £20, ring the box office on 01284 758000 or see www.theapex.co.uk for more details.